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Old 06-23-2009, 01:35 PM
 
Location: Flanders, Belgium
267 posts, read 764,277 times
Reputation: 264

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I'm from Belgium and I've been several times to Maryland, because I have relatives living there. They moved to Maryland 15 years ago.

Most shocking for me (sometimes for my relatives too) is still:
- The lack of people outside, or pedestrians on the streets, despite of the nice climate in the DC area (especially in the suburbs): lots of people living there, but everyone is moving in cars. Not much playing children, not much hanging around and no people outside late in the evening.
- Bad (+fat) food: Decent food has a high price in the US, compared to the excellent cuisine here in Belgium, from snackbar to expensive restaurants.
- The lack of variation in stores, shops: Always the same stores, everywhere: CVS/Pharmacy, Footlocker, Starbucks, ...
- Fat people: For me, the US has to many fat people. And it looks like the other part is constantly jogging...
- Bad taste: Many people wear casual sportswear, and mostly XXL.
- To many package (= garbage) when having a quick meal.
And an important one: The gap between rich and poor, between white, hispanic an Afro-American neighbourhoods, the expensive social security.

But hey, I like America too! Why?
- Most Americans are friendly
- Great nature
- Clothes and electronics are cheaper than in Belgium.
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Old 06-23-2009, 01:56 PM
 
Location: Flanders, Belgium
267 posts, read 764,277 times
Reputation: 264
Default Some views on the statements from a Belgian.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiveUrban View Post
After living abroad in Europe for several years, these are the things that shocked me on return (note: these were more extreme for me because I came back to Texas)

- So many morbidly obese people
In Europe, only Scotland has about the same percentage of obese people as the US.
- You need a car to get around
Yes indeed! America is large!!!
- Food portions are gigantic and foods are saltier, sweeter, and more fake tasting than many European restaurant and store bought goods
True! More salt and sweeteners in the US. Fountain drinks (with chloroform-taste due to tap water) are bad too!
- Cell phones suddenly got extremely popular (texting)
How sad! I think that "problem" is even bigger in Europe!
- Roads aren't well maintained
- People actually enjoy living in the suburbs (I used to be a suburb lover, but after living in Europe, my views were changed)
"Downtown" in the US stands for desolated late night, poor dangerous. In Europe, downtown is the best part of the city, the most vibrant and beautiful.
- There aren't any magazine/news stands around (only in NY, Chicago and other bigger cities)
- Massive interchanges
- More car accidents (because most people use public transportation in Europe when not going on vacation) Not true! In the United Kingdom, people drive carefully. For them, people on the continent (=rest of Europe) drive like hell!
- Mega churches
- Ugly suburban architecture For example, in the New Jersey area, or DC-suburbia, they know only about...4?...different housing-styles. Like what? Colonial revival, victorian.... Boring!!!
- Even 20 year old memorabilia is considered an antique and cherished. Europeans think it's trash. They have thousands of years of history and artifacts
True!
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Old 06-23-2009, 04:12 PM
 
12,825 posts, read 20,132,535 times
Reputation: 10910
Quote:
Originally Posted by orangeapple View Post
3). In recent times, there seems to be an attitude that people who have knowledge on subjects like this are know-it-alls. Anti-intellectualism seems to have taken hold, and I am not sure why. I can relate a conversation in which people had mentioned Switzerland, and they confused it with Sweden geographically , and so I corrected them, and then they made fun of me for knowing.
We're doomed!
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Old 06-23-2009, 04:30 PM
 
12,825 posts, read 20,132,535 times
Reputation: 10910
Quote:
Originally Posted by roboto View Post
Im a fil-am too but I grew up in the states, and havent been back home since 2004. Like you say, I think the US has so many more laws than the Philippines, and sometimes is way too constricting. There is a fine for any little thing - seat belt, littering, loitering, jaywalking, parking, drinking outside, peeing, being too loud in public, trespassing etc. I find that the Philippines is actually much more 'free' than the US. This is probably true of a lot of other supposedly less 'free' countries. However, at the same time, the Phils has much more pollution (and people peeing everywhere lol), so sometimes the additional laws and ordinances can be good. Just that its a little overboard in the US.

The US does have late night places to eat in big cities though, and even smaller cities. Any small city will at least have a Taco Bell, McDonalds, Wendys, and even IHOP or Dennys. I miss jollibees! And what about burger machine everywhere? I like being able to sit outside and drink san miguel and just chill. Man I want to go back!
Here (in and around SF) we have Jollibees, Barrio Fiesta and Max's. And for dessert and cafeteria style food we have Goldilocks. Of course the prices are higher than in the Philippines - LOL!
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Old 06-23-2009, 10:52 PM
 
Location: Houston
273 posts, read 667,640 times
Reputation: 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2360039 View Post
- The lack of people outside, or pedestrians on the streets, despite of the nice climate in the DC area (especially in the suburbs): lots of people living there, but everyone is moving in cars. Not much playing children, not much hanging around and no people outside late in the evening.
I completely agree. This was probably the number one thing that I noticed as well when I first moved to the US. Everyone is driving everywhere, everything is really spread out, and there is no real street life - people are staying inside even if the weather is nice. I later found that there are areas that are different in the US, but unfortunately they are not the norm.
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Old 06-24-2009, 10:52 AM
 
Location: NJ
16,920 posts, read 11,810,861 times
Reputation: 10900
Default host to many

Folks I met from places like CH, Belguim, Scotland, India, Germany and to a person they were astounded at the amount of 'wildness'/natural diversity and 'wild' areas in NJ. Amazed at the lack of people using these areas. Even more amazed that these areas existed in the shadow of NYC.
Each of these folks had a deep interest in the 'outdoors' but had no idea it could be found here packaged in a different wrapper and different form what they expected or were used to seeing in their world travels.

The Swiss woman mentioned the constant sound of airplanes as a negative. She was so impressed to see a turtle outside of a zoo.

One Belgian collegue told me when she moved over with her family the 'cultural consultant' she was assigned told her if she wanted to go hiking she should 'walk' the malls. It is apparent the contact people provided by businesses here are quite myopic in their knowledge base of what is available in NJ and thus support a false reputation of life in the 'states'.

Cheap clothes in the most expensive area malls were also a favorite.
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Old 06-24-2009, 10:58 AM
 
317 posts, read 818,206 times
Reputation: 192
Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeAndBlue View Post
I completely agree. This was probably the number one thing that I noticed as well when I first moved to the US. Everyone is driving everywhere, everything is really spread out, and there is no real street life - people are staying inside even if the weather is nice. I later found that there are areas that are different in the US, but unfortunately they are not the norm.
It's an interesting point you bring up. European cities never really became magnets for automobiles, and have always had smaller, more pedestrian-oriented streets. American cities burgeoned out of highways, which became analogically blood vessels after President Eisenhower's Interstate Highway project. Thats roughly around the time American suburbs spawned from the higher ease of commute.
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Old 06-24-2009, 11:11 AM
 
Location: Omaha
2,716 posts, read 6,214,240 times
Reputation: 1221
Quote:
Originally Posted by Backstrom View Post
It's an interesting point you bring up. European cities never really became magnets for automobiles, and have always had smaller, more pedestrian-oriented streets. American cities burgeoned out of highways, which became analogically blood vessels after President Eisenhower's Interstate Highway project. Thats roughly around the time American suburbs spawned from the higher ease of commute.
You're exactly right. My question is this: why do people criticize our automobile and interstate oriented society? Do people not understand that in part is what fueled the US into becoming an economic super power?
As much as people would like to believe it's so bad, they have it good because of that.
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Old 06-24-2009, 11:40 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
1,954 posts, read 4,504,206 times
Reputation: 1817
Quote:
Originally Posted by burgerflipper View Post
You're exactly right. My question is this: why do people criticize our automobile and interstate oriented society? Do people not understand that in part is what fueled the US into becoming an economic super power?
As much as people would like to believe it's so bad, they have it good because of that.
I think when most people criticize our automobile and interstate oriented society it has more to do with our developmental patterns, encouragement of sprawl, and lack of public transit. Because of this the average American city is quite dead and unfriendly to pedestrians compared to their European counterparts (with some notable exceptions like NYC or San Francisco). Our rail transit has been almost completely ignored for decades while interstates have continued to expand. I personally would like to see a more even distribution of our tax dollars and more thought put into urban planning than just throwing up strip malls, cul-da-sacs, and more local interstates. Back in the day we used to develop walkable communities that were more transit friendly, so why can’t we now? Fortunately many people are starting to realize this. You are right in saying the national interstate system is a good thing and was essential for our development as a nation, but it would be nice if we also had more options for rail transit like they do in Europe.
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Old 06-24-2009, 12:44 PM
 
3,277 posts, read 4,614,354 times
Reputation: 1913
Quote:
Originally Posted by 5Lakes View Post
I think when most people criticize our automobile and interstate oriented society it has more to do with our developmental patterns, encouragement of sprawl, and lack of public transit. Because of this the average American city is quite dead and unfriendly to pedestrians compared to their European counterparts (with some notable exceptions like NYC or San Francisco). Our rail transit has been almost completely ignored for decades while interstates have continued to expand. I personally would like to see a more even distribution of our tax dollars and more thought put into urban planning than just throwing up strip malls, cul-da-sacs, and more local interstates. Back in the day we used to develop walkable communities that were more transit friendly, so why canít we now? Fortunately many people are starting to realize this. You are right in saying the national interstate system is a good thing and was essential for our development as a nation, but it would be nice if we also had more options for rail transit like they do in Europe.
Exactly. Not much more to say than this.
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